The value of an MBA specialized in human resources has grown as the relationship between companies and their employees has gotten more complex. The days are long gone when all employees got two weeks off and basic medical insurance. Nowadays, hiring and retaining good workers involves assembling a benefits package that can include medical, disability, travel and other types of insurance, retirement investment packages, education benefits and vacation policies. Human resources pros are also charged with overseeing modern work environments where individuals and companies are bound by strict anti-discrimination laws. They also spearhead the creation of procedures for hiring and, unfortunately, sometimes firing employees that protect a company from potential lawsuits.
Although some people progress to senior HR positions without a specialized business degree, an MBA in human resources can give you a significant advantage in getting hired for this type of position, particularly by larger companies. While the “core” courses in your MBA will give you a good grounding in overall business principles (that can be useful to you should you move out of human resources later in your career) the HR specialization part of your degree will cover issues like compensation procedures, legal issues in human resources, industrial psychology, performance appraisal, workforce environment management, recruitment and employee development. This is a degree that can definitely be obtained through online learning.
Careers & Salaries With A Master of Business Degree in Human Resources
An median salary for a human resources professional is approximately $99,000., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But a Vice President of HR can earn well over $130,000., and be considered a key senior manager in a large company. Demand for HR specialists is expected to grow at a higher rate than many other job areas, as more medium-sized companies, health care facilities, universities and government agencies look to bring in people with specialized skills in human resources.
Some of the most common job titles in human resources are:
- Human Resources Director or Vice President of Human Resources
This person oversees all aspects of employment for the company, working with division heads to see that standard policies are used to deal with all employee issues. The position frequently reports directly to the company CEO, and involves managing many smaller HR departments around the world at all the company locations. Communication skills are very valuable at this level, along with an understanding of how to compensate very senior managers, doing diligence and integration planning when there are mergers or acquisitions being considered, and handling compliance issues in an international context. The MBA in human resources is highly valued of you aim for a very senior position like this.
- Director of Compensation or Compensation Specialist
A specialist in compensation will be charged with making sure that a company’s pay packages are in line with what competing companies offer for specific positions, classifying jobs along compensation lines and seeing basic employee qualification standards. The job can involve doing market research, surveys and even creating statistical models for compensation, which may include incentive payments in addition to base salary. Compensation specialists also ensure that company pay policies comply with state and federal regulations.
- Recruitment & Development Specialist
Creates and implements company policies on advertising job openings, promoting from within versus hiring from outside, and screening of all job applications. Once a new employee has been hired, the recruitment specialist will ensure that he or she is set up with everything from an office space to a computer, a health care package and that any special needs are met. Employees today have choices to make about which insurance and retirement benefits they want and how much of their salary they want to contribute to them, which they decide on with the help of a human resources development specialist.
- Director of Employee Relations
The employee relations director must monitor the overall work environment to make sure it’s maximizing the productivity of employees, and that disputes and conflicts that arise are being resolved in a way that’s professional and which complies with employment laws. This requires an expertise in reading and interpreting employment laws. In a very large company or a university, the employee relations head will manage an ongoing affirmative action play that ensures that minorities are being given opportunities. Alternatively, the job can involve working with the company lawyer to investigate complaints or even lawsuits against the company.
- Benefits Specialist
The benefits specialist is usually the HR person who gets the most phone calls from employees with questions. People call when they need to know exactly what their insurance coverage is if they have just been diagnosed with an illness, how big a severance package they will receive if they are terminated, and how changes in certain laws will affect them. A classic example is the change in medical coverage for children included in the 2010 health care legislation. It mandates that children who have graduated from college can still be on their mother or father’s company health plan up to age 26, which they could not in most cases previously. Employees all over the country are now calling their benefits specialists asking when that provision actually kicks in, how much it will cost them, and other related questions. The benefits specialist job may also include building a database for tracking all benefit costs to the company, helping to resolve employee insurance claims and suggesting changes to benefit policies.
Unique Skill Set
An MBA in human resources can help you develop the particular skills for an HR career. First and foremost among these is an ability to communicate with a wide variety of people who run from very junior to most senior job positions, and managers who need to know how HR rules impact all sorts of different departments. The degree helps teach both verbal and written skills in this area. The larger the company you work in, the more likely it is that you’ll be asked to develop a very deep understanding of one particular aspect of employee management. Human resource specialists in small to medium sized companies need to have a more generalized knowledge of all employment issues.
While companies are obviously focused on profit, it also remains true that getting the right employees and keeping them satisfied remains extremely important. Maximizing retention of quality people is a goal that companies will reward the HR manager for reaching.
Courses for an MBA in Human Resources
In addition to generalized business courses, your MBA in human resources is likely to include specialized courses in these areas:
Employment Law: Workplace harassment, discrimination issues, regulatory compliance, ethics, analyzing law, liability avoidance, safe workplace practices.
Employee Development: HR strategy, creating training objectives, employee counseling, training delivery, factors influencing employee behavior, leadership development, and organizational effectiveness.
Strategic Rewards Approaches: Rewards systems to motivate and retain employees, pay structures, payroll practices, and compensation types.